communications have been established to every part of the town.
In a town like Rangoon, never the seat of the native Burmese Government, and a capital established by the British, where at the present day only about one-third of the inhabitants are Burmese, it is natural that there should be fewer structures dedicated to religious purposes than in say, Mandalay,
or any of the more ancient capitals of Burma. This, accordingly, we find to be the case ; Rangoon can show but few great Buddhist shrines, monasteries, or temples, whilst the number of monks and novices resident in such few monasteries as exist, are in nothing like the large proportion we find in Mandalay, Sagaing, and every more purely Burmese town. But if, for a Burmese city, Rangoon is deficient in religious buildings, in one
pre-eminent respect it far outshines them all; in the possession of the greatest and holiest of all Burmese shrines, the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, renowned and revered thoughout the whole of India, China, and indeed throughout the Buddhist world at large.
The term pagoda, probably a corruption of the Sinhalese Dagoba (Pali Dhatu-gabbha, relic-shrine), is commonly, though incorrectly, applied by Europeans to the innumerable
cone-shaped structures with which the whole of Burma is studded, and share with the monasteries the function of foci in the religious life of the people. The correct designation is the Pali Cetiya or Thupa, and the vernacular title, Tsedi, is a corruption of the former word. The Thupa originated, of course, in India, where, in the time of the Buddha, it was customary to erect such a structure over the remains of any very
powerful ruler or very holy personage. It is probable that this custom arose from the still more ancient cairn, a rough pile of stones erected over the graves of great men in the earliest ages of the history of humanity, but however that may be, the Thupa has now come to represent for all Buddhist peoples, the tomb of the Buddha, and hence the symbol of Nirvana ; whilst its more modern form has been explained to synthesise the five fundamental forms symbolic of the fjve elementsathe cube for earth, or rather for solidity ; the sphere for the air, or rather mobility ; the cup or lotus-bloom, the cres-centiform emblem of undulating water or fluidity ; the pyramid of fire, or heat radiant vibration ; and the surmounting ovoid of the matrix of all things, typical of the akasa, the space element or ether, the a vast emptiness a wherein the lower four elements exist in ceaseless flux of being or becoming. Over all is set the seven-tiered canopy of dominion, the symbol of the lordship in the truth of him whose passing away the Thupa commemorates, itself the emblem of the mind attained, the conscious wisdom dominating all the universe.
From the primordial form synthesising these five elements with mind as the sixth, the beauty loving and artistic Burmese mind has evolved a national and distinctive type of which no better instance than the Shwe Dagon exists, a type in which predominates throughout, not the harsh outlines of sphere and pyramid and cube, but those graceful open curves, parabola and hyperbola, which enter so largely into every product of Burmese art. The pagoda, it will be understood, is a solid mass of masonry or brickwork, but somewhere along the axis of the cone, generally somewhat raised above the level of the ground, there is built a small hollow chamber, the true Dhatu-gabbha or relic repository. In this chamber are placed various religious objects, such as bodily relics of the Buddha, or other sanctified personage, books sometimes composed of inscribed leaves of gold and silver, portions of the Buddhist scriptures being thus preserved for so long as the Thupa shall remain inviolate, and lastly, images of the Buddha, jewels and other precious objects, offered as votive gifts by the constructor of the shrine.
Shwe Dagon owes its especial sanctity to the circumstance that it is supposed to contain, in its interior shrine, relics of all four of the Buddhas of the present aeon : the alms-bowl of Kakusandha, the robe of Konagamana, the staff of Kassapa, and eight hairs of Gotama athe Buddha of history. The tradition of its foundation, remarkably supported by no
SHWE DAGON PAGODA.SHWE DAGON PAGODA.